Once a Year at 11:11 am, the Sun Shines Perfectly on This Veterans Memorial To Reveal the Great Seal of the United States
Thousands gathered Monday in Anthem, Arizona, at the community’s veterans memorial to witness an event that happens every year at precisely the 11th minute, of the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.
At that time, the sun illuminates the “Great Seal of the United States” by shining through ellipses carved into the five pillars that make up the Anthem Veterans Memorial.
Each pillar represents one of the five branches of service, placed in Department of Defense order of precedence: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
The driving force behind the memorial was Anthem resident Rear Adm. (ret.) Ronald Tucker, who began planning and fundraising for it in 2008.
Renee Palmer-Jones, designer of the memorial, told The Western Journal in 2015 that her intention was to bring people together at a common place and a common time to honor veterans.
What is now Veterans Day finds its origins in Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I with the signing of an armistice for the cessation of hostilities, and took effect at 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
The Anthem Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Nov. 11, 2011.
“This memorial is very symbolic in that is was opened on 11-11-11, and every year on November 11th at 11:11 a.m., the sun shines through the five ellipses of the pillars to cast a perfect solar spotlight on the great seal of the United States,” Anthem Community Council director of communications Kristi Northcutt told Arizona Capitol Television in 2018.
The white color of the five columns, surrounded by red brick pavers, with the Arizona blue sky as a backdrop represent the American flag.
The five benches that surround the memorial represent the families of service members — who make sacrifices of their own — as they await the hoped-for return of their loved ones home.
“It’s just a wonderful tribute to men and women who served our country, and I’m very proud to have been associated with it,” Tucker told The Western Journal following Monday’s ceremony.
The keynote speaker at this year’s event was Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Woodruff, who deployed overseas during the Gulf War in the early 1990s, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Woodruff spent a significant portion of his remarks talking about his experience as a guardian for World War II veteran Jim Galgano on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., in 2017.
Galgano, now 101, was in attendance at Anthem’s ceremony and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
The program also included the playing of the “Service Branch Medley,” and each of the members of the five branches of service were asked to stand and be recognized when their branch song began.
The ceremony ended with all present singing “God Bless America.”
Honoring #Veterans in Anthem, Arizona with beautiful rendition of #GodBlessAmerica and the military service songs: the #ARMY goes rolling along! #veteransday2019 #AnthemVeteransMemorial pic.twitter.com/VRO5BswwX9
— Randy DeSoto (@RandyDeSoto) November 11, 2019
Asked what he hoped veterans take away from the ceremony, Tucker said, “Just feel respected and honored. That’s why we did this. I want them to walk out of here and feel proud they have something they can call their own.”
In a statement to The Western Journal, Northcutt said, “Thousands [gather] at the Anthem Veterans Memorial to witness the iconic solar spotlight — but even more than that, the day provides us an opportunity to spend time together in gratitude for the service of our nation’s armed forces members and their families.”
She further noted that the Veterans Day ceremony is just one of the ways the community seeks to honor those who served.
Anthem also hosts one of the largest veterans parades in the state of Arizona each year.
The parade this year included a vintage warplane flyover and was preceded by the famous Frog-X Parachute Team — made up of current and former military special operators — jumping in and delivering an American flag for the event.
The famous Frog-X Parachute team, made up of current and former special operators, delivers the American flag at Anthem, Arizona’s #Veterans Parade. #veteransday2019 pic.twitter.com/Wrf5m8ee5D
— Randy DeSoto (@RandyDeSoto) November 11, 2019
Michael Tapp, spokesman for the Daisy Mountain Veterans, the group hosting the parade, told The Western Journal the purpose of the parade and surrounding festivities is to honor veterans and their families, build community, and remind all who attend that “freedom is not free.”
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